It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement about the “digital” part of digital transformation. New cloud computing platforms are changing the way companies operate in ever more novel and productive ways, from collaboration suites and video conferencing to facilitate remote workers, to online training portals, better CRM platforms and customer interaction.
All to often, however, the people who will be affected by digital transformation programmes are the last to be consulted on how they should be used. Leaders should never lose sight of the fact that the ultimate purpose of these new tools is to enable employees to operate in a more fluid environment, with more access to data and the ability to interpret it. That, in turn, facilitates creative and innovative thinking thanks to the ability to spot problems and build solutions early.
In other words, it’s the people, not the tech, that will make digital transformation a success, says Ntokozo Magwaza, Group Executive for Human Capital at Ansys Group.
“Right now, our challenge is that as a technology company involved with the digital transformation of industry, it’s imperative that we practice what we preach,” Magwaza says, “And deploy the digital tools which will support the open culture of innovation we’re building within the company.
“We need to thrive as leaders in digital transformation,”he continues, “We’re looking at how we can evolve all of our people functions and HR management to incorporate new technology, and manage our processes better. More importantly, though, our role is to be custodians of the culture, to create vibrant working spaces in the physical and digital worlds.”
That success or failure of digital transformation projects depends on a the process of change management is acknowledged globally. The specifics, however, are unique to every environment.
“Our view is that we’re not just chasing after best practices in people management,” Magwaza says, “We are looking for best fitpractices. We want to build something that will be authentic to our environment, empower our people and contribute to our business objectives in a fulfilling way.”
For Ansys, Magwaza says, the current challenges revolve around integrating the different parts of the company which have been historically separate in order to improve collaborations between different divisions. It’s vital that issues, such as fears around job security with both digitisation and integration, are tackled early.
“It’s important for our people to create good experiences for our customers,” Magwaza says, “But it’s our responsibility as managers to create positive experiences for our employees that will drive engagement, retention and productivity.”
The process of digital transformation will take time, Magwaza admits, but one area that he’s focussed on in the short term is training and development.
“We’re looking hard at how we can make training more accessible through technology, and how we can understand not just what people are learning but how they are using those new skills,” Magwaza explains, “We believe in a blended learning approach that combines classroom and digital learning, but there’s lots of research that says 70% of learning is ‘on the job’ and only 10% as a result of formal training. We’re looking at how we can help managers with new tools to get even more out of workplace learning.”
Making training an ongoing process with resources that can be accessed from anywhere at any time will help to drive organic skills development, Magwaza believes, and ultimately help employees find new roles that fit their passion. The most important thing, however, is that process of digital transformation is as open as possible.
“My great fear is that we try to implement new processes before we deal with the natural fears and doubts that come from reorganisation and new programmes,” Magwaza says, “Those fears do come up, and they have to addressed there and then. We have to engage and win our people’s trust.”
Bring on the revolution indeed.